This is how Steve Bruce wants to be judged by Newcastle United fans

Rafa Benitez is now looking for his next project in football after leaving Dalian Professional – and many Newcastle United fans are hoping that he returns to St James’s Park.

Saturday, 23rd January 2021, 4:45 pm

That would seem a non-starter so long as Mike Ashley remains owner, though a £300million sale to a consortium led by Amanda Staveley and backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund would change everything.

For now, Steve Bruce is head coach – and the 60-year-old, it’s clear, is becoming increasingly irritated by speculation over his future, and possible successors, at the club, which takes on Aston Villa, his former club, tonight.

Benitez’s availability following his departure from Dalian will only heighten his unease after a run of nine games without a win.

That run has left the club perilously close to the Premier League’s relegation zone at the halfway point of the season, though Bruce, for now, retains the backing of Ashley.

Speaking before a home game against Villa last summer, Bruce, sensibly, asked supporters to judge him on results.

“As I've said many times, whoever was going to replace Rafa would find it difficult because of the respect that he had,” said Bruce last June. “I hope, over time, they judge me on results, and judge me on what they see, and at least give me a year into it.

“If I'm no good, then fine – off with my head.”

Steve Bruce.

Bruce is now 18 months into his time at his boyhood club – and results, and performances, this season have been nowhere near good enough.

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